Video: Poet, new to Belfast, performs spoken word and jazz

All Green Lights

Tue, 08/13/2013 - 3:30am

    BELFAST - From the hills of San Francisco, the verdant landscape of northern Vermont, the concrete Coltrane district of Philadelphia; from these and other far-flung places, Toussaint St. Negritude has come to Maine — seeking refuge from the gridded, concrete jungle here in naturally-exquisite northern New England.

    If you are a Belfast native, or have been around town in the past several months, you may have noticed Toussaint's presence around the city. He is easily one of the funkiest people in this town, often sporting brilliant, eye-catching colors and intricate homemade hats. Since his arrival Toussaint has taken Belfast by storm - Performing at Aarus Gallery downtown, assimilating seamlessly into Belfast's poet community and performing original jazz and poetry on the streets during the Free Range Festival this past April.

    Toussaint's success as a jazz musician and poet is not native to Belfast alone. He has spent years of his life honing his craft in a wide range of sites. Born in San Francisco, Toussaint's deep connection to nature and creative expression was prevalent long before his departure from the sidewalks and trolly tracks. He often speaks fondly of rich views from vantage points like the great Mt. Tamalpais, gazing over the bay area from afar and the deep connection he felt to the natural environment - as well as a bond down on the pavement, with the punks, funks and all other diverse communities within urban SF. To him, it is all nature and it is all interconnected.

    He has traveled to Haiti, Houston, Paris, Savannah, Philadelphia and beyond. Spending his time in each unique location refining and shaping his work and perspective. His poems have been published in a handful of the aforementioned locales including northern Vermont too, where he most recently called home.
    I met Toussaint like I meet most of the people I film and write about — sheer, random luck.
    I was working an odd job cleaning out an old barn for some friends of mine. Toussaint arrived in response to a craigslist ad we had posted for people who might be interested in some old doors, frames and windows.
    Two front doors and one screen later I was standing in Toussaint's studio, surrounded by countless books, wonderful old pictures and the coolest handmade headwear. We easily struck up conversation, and without knowing anything about me, he said that he was hoping to find someone to help him produce a film — It's funny how things happen.
    Since then, Toussaint and I have become good friends. The included video is the result of our first work together.